- 2014 - January - 10th -

Residency repeal, ethics training for council bills filed

By David Chapman, Staff Writer

A bill repealing a Duval County residency requirement for appointed city employees and another requiring City Council members to attend ethics training were among the first bills filed this year.

Dubbed the "live here, work here" bill, the measure approved in 2011 was heavily debated and postponed before ultimately passing council by a 12-7 vote.

Introduced by council member Reggie Brown, the original legislation would have required all new employees, mayoral appointees and members of various boards and commissions named or hired after Oct. 1, 2011, to be residents of Duval County.

Brown said at the time the intent was to keep taxpayer dollars within Duval County.

The amended and approved version narrowed that scope to employees appointed and confirmed by council and the date was pushed back to July 1, 2012.

Council members John Crescimbeni, Richard Clark and Stephen Joost introduced the repeal effort. Crescimbeni said Thursday he didn't support the idea when it was first presented and that too many waivers have since been made.

"I think it would be prudent to go back to where we were," Crescimbeni said.

While the repeal would wipe the residency requirement from the books, he said he does think the mayor's staff, as policy makers, should adhere to a such a rule.

"I don't think if you work at Winn-Dixie, you should be buying your groceries at Publix," Crescimbeni said. "I think that the policy makers, department heads, division chiefs, should all live in Duval County … they are the ones impacting how we live in the city."

In another bill, council members could be required to attend ethics training that is mandatory for all constitutional officers and similar officeholders in the state.

A law passed last year requires all positions identified as "constitutional officers" to annually complete four hours of ethics training.

But, a November opinion by the General Counsel's Office said council members were not considered constitutional officers or county commissioners and did not have to meet the requirement.

Carla Miller, the city Ethics, Compliance, and Oversight director, disagrees with the opinion that was sought by council member Richard Clark.

Most council members still attended an ethics training session days after the opinion. Several others either planned to make the hours or already had completed the requirements.

The bill to require council members to complete the training was filed at the request of the Jacksonville Ethics Commission.

State Sunshine compliance law training can count toward those four hours.




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